Why are carbon spokes growing in popularity?
Why are carbon spoke bicycle wheels becoming so popular? There is a strong association between high-end performance and carbon fiber. Almost all high-end frames, forks, wheels, etc., are all carbon fiber, no wonder they are the choice of top athletes and teams worldwide. We highlight what makes carbon spokes a game changer and what has driven us to manufacture the toughest, lightest, and smoothest riding wheels ever built.
Carbon is more durable than steel.
Carbon fiber is robust. It is typical in engineering to measure the benefit of a material in terms of strength-to-weight ratio and stiffness-to-weight ratio, particularly in structural design, where added weight may translate into increased lifecycle costs or unsatisfactory performance. Below are some of the core benefits of carbon fiber composites over metal.
High Tensile Strength
The fibers in carbon can withstand a high amount of tensile stress before breaking. Tensile strength is the force a material can withstand before being pulled apart. Carbon fibers have a high tensile strength, much higher than most metals. Our G1 carbon composite spoke outperformed the steel spokes by an almost 20% margin.
The carbon atoms in carbon fibers are arranged in a highly ordered, parallel pattern called a “crystal structure.” This pattern gives carbon fibers their high strength and stiffness. On the other hand, metals have a less ordered crystal structure, making them more fragile.
Low thermal expansion
Carbon fibers have a low thermal expansion coefficient, meaning they do not expand or contract much with temperature changes. This coefficient creates a more durable material and is less prone to warping under extreme temperatures.
Carbon fibers are not affected by corrosion, unlike metals. They can withstand harsh weather conditions and chemical exposure without showing signs of wear or degradation, making them ideal for outdoor applications.
Carbon spokes play a large role in reducing vibrations
Regardless of the surface you are riding on; trail, gravel, pavement all vibrations the rider feels are transmitted to the rider via the spokes. There is compelling research about how vibrations can increase heart rate and fatigue in bike riders. In an article released by Pink Bike, vibrations can increase hand fatigue and reduce control by affecting your grip strength. There are many variables regarding how carbon spokes can improve vibration damping, such as spoke tension, spoke count, and lacing pattern. At Gulo, we use Ride Smooth Technology(RST) in the G1 Composite spoke design to maximize compliance, comfort, and damping by controlling the braid angle in our proprietary triaxial braiding properties. RST drastically improves ride quality for whichever discipline you enjoy.
Winning strength-to-weight ratio
Carbon fibers are not high in density, meaning they weigh less than most metals. This low density also means that carbon fibers have a high strength-to-weight ratio, making them ideal for applications where weight is a critical factor, such as aerospace, automotive, and sports goods.
Carbon spokes are also substantially lighter than steel, but more importantly, the strength-to-weight ratio of carbon fiber composites is much higher. The specific details depend on the construction of the part and the application. With the G1 triaxial braid design, we achieve a maximal strength-to-weight ratio of the G1 carbon composite spokes over metal spokes. Typical stainless steel spoke spokes weigh 4-6 grams, whereas the Gulo G1 Composite spoke weighs 2.9 grams.
Carbon spokes should be your next upgrade.
Carbon spokes are gaining popularity very fast for strength, compliance, and weight. While it is unsurprising that carbon spokes save substantial weight, they are only relevant if they are durable. Considering the tensile strength of carbon spokes, it’s evident that carbon is the material of the future. But don’t let strength and weight be your only focus, as vibration damping can improve the ride quality in a huge way. So when you look at your next set of wheels, remember that carbon spokes can dramatically improve your ride quality.